Instagram Lessons I’ve Learned

October 26, 2016 | 11 Comments

This is not a how-to-get-millions-of-followers-on-Instagram-and-make-a-living-out-of-it type of post. I feel like I have to preface every “how to” post like this, because there will be always be other bloggers/social media/digital gurus telling me I’m not qualified! No, this is just a collection of a few things I’ve learned along the way in my experience with Instagram, that you might find handy if you are just getting into it or if you want to create better content.

instagram1Firstly, if you guys are on one social media platform, I would choose Instagram head and shoulders above the rest! I love it because it offers me such positivity in this world (it’s the only social media app I still keep on my phone as a result). I get wisdom, beauty, stories and the chance to connect with others through the power of this wonderful platform. Also, all of these points below are very subjective and more about how I personally like consuming and engaging with content on Instagram:

  1. Firstly, don’t use actual Instagram to take the photo! Use your regular phone camera and then upload to Instagram.
  2. Caption it. Maybe it’s because I’m a word person but even if your image is really really beautiful, I at least want to know where in the world it was taken, or what it means to you. I need context.
  3. It’s all in the detail. It’s the little things that make life interesting. So maybe don’t take a picture of the cake, take a picture of all the crumbs on the table once the party is over? Or do a close up on that one crimson petal, instead of photographing the entire flower.
  4. Frame and angle. I think proper photographers would call this composition? But a lot of it is about choosing how to position all of the things in your image. Your kid in the centre of the pic looking straight towards the camera, every single time, is just not that interesting. Try snapping them at the bottom left with a green field stretching out behind them. Or get down on the grass and take a pic of them staring up at the clouds.
  5. Take a lot of pics. If I’m about to Instagram something, I take about 6 or 7 shots and then review them afterwards, choosing the best one. Not many people take a good shot that first time.
  6. It’s all about the light. If you’re photographing objects, know the spots in your house that give you the best light (you can instantly see when comparing). This is especially applicable when it comes to photographing food (which is hard!) – snap some pics in different lights to find the best option.
  7. Get props. Professional bloggers have entire prop drawers and cupboards but I’m not there yet! I have a few cloths and vases and plates that I know add that little something, plus I find that fresh flowers or foilage always makes a pic better (as long as it looks natural!).
  8. Get some editing apps. The Instagram filters are great but there are additional tools you can use like Picstitch, Camera Plus (+), Little Moments, Snapseed and VSCO that give you a whole lot of other handy tricks up your sleeve. But don’t over edit your images either, you don’t want a pic that looks unnatural and just plain weird.
  9. Let’s talk about hashtags. This is a difficult one because if you really want to get Insta-famous, there are all these hashtags you should use when posting one of your images. But I’m not going to talk about that (because clearly I have no idea what they are). No, I’m asking that you don’t use those annoying hashtags like this: #noideawhatimtalkingaboutbuteveryoneisdoingit
  10. Be original. Oh the sunset on the Prom was pink tonight was it? By all means, take a picture of it but can you add something original like how it made you feel, or here’s my friend skateboarding with the sunset behind them, or here’s my girlfriend laughing in the corner of the shot. That would be much more interesting than the fifth #pinksunset #capetown #summer on my feed.
  11. Post less, but post better images. Often I see images people post and I’m like: did you not LOOK at your image before sharing it? If your image isn’t exactly what you were hoping for, rather take a few more and post at a later stage. I much prefer quality over quantity. The same applies to your recent holiday in the Kruger. Rather post one magnificent image of your G&T by the watering hole than 8 x out-of-focus shots of tiny antelope in the distance.

Above all, decide what your IG profile is for and the kind of thing you want to focus on. Is it to post every pic of every family get together? That’s fine – but then you probably won’t get a big following (if that’s what you’re after), as that doesn’t offer much to other people. I tend to photograph a variety of things I love, beautiful places I visit or my kids (if they’re looking particularly cute!). So if you’re not on Instagram, why not sign up?! And if you are already, let me know your favourite Instagrammers to follow? I’m always looking for inspiration.

Happy creating.


P.S. The polaroids above were printed out from my Instagram feed through a company called Nifty250, aren’t they awesome?



  • Reply Bev October 26, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Thanks B, that’s really useful! I’m just entering the ‘business’ world of Instagram and have seriously changed the way I view this platform now. Previously I was using it for personal stuff and looking back at my grid, I am embarrassed! I’ve actually now chosen to make my personal account private and have created a new business one (soon to be launched hopefully!) but I’m keeping that account dormant for now until I have a clearer idea of what I’d like to offer those interested enough to follow me (following your very useful tips above .. ashamed to admit, I was making a few mistakes highlighted above)! I’ve started following some very inspiring accounts such as em_henderson, alyssaloring, ohhappydaydbn, therefinedwoman, the_prettyblog, fsbali, beckiowens, segeriusbruce

    • Reply Belinda Mountain October 26, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Oh we’ve all made those mistakes before Bev – nothing to be ashamed of! I’m still figuring a lot of stuff out as I go too. I agree its a good idea to separate personal and business, something I can’t really do though as my blog/brand is about me! I do follow some of those accounts you mention but about to look up the rest…thanks!

  • Reply Megan Keith October 26, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Very interesting read! Thanks for sharing! I’m definitely going to use some if your tips…I especially like the idea of quality over quantity! Love your IG feed by the way! Megan xxx

  • Reply Theresa October 27, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    I love Instagram. It’s replaced Facebook largely for me – Facebook’s appeal was photo-sharing but now it’s so cluttered. But I’m unashamedly a personal user with little desire to grow my followers. So I’m probably one of those annoying ones, especially with the silly hashtags.

    • Reply Belinda Mountain October 27, 2016 at 6:15 pm

      And I think that’s fine Theresa…we all use the platform for different reasons! For me IG is still very different to Facebook as I follow lots of people on IG who aren’t my “real life” friends. So Facebook still has a place but it’s a bit of a desert at the moment with not much fresh interesting content!

    • Reply Belinda Mountain October 27, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      P.S. I have never found YOUR hashtags annoying! Haha.

  • Reply Theresa October 28, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    🙂 phew!

  • Reply Maz October 30, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    Very helpful tips B! Thank you for sharing your Yoda knowledge with us!

    • Reply Belinda Mountain October 31, 2016 at 10:03 am

      Hahahaha! Not sure you really need these tips Maz – you’re doing IG brilliantly!

  • Reply Sharon November 10, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    I love this, mostly because I feel the same way.
    Snapseed FTW!
    And also I sometimes look at IG images and wonder what was the thought process behind posting a certain pic. IG should be pretty and interesting and LIGHT is EVERYTHING!
    It’s also my most favorite SM platform!

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